Mental Overhaul

” The months have now turned into weeks. In less than a month, I will be back in the United States.”

I’m not in Kansas anymore…I’m back at Times Square. My two-week mission has ended at FOB Salerno and I am now back at Bagram Airfield. I didn’t miss this place at all. My allergies have returned, traffic jams are reminiscent of the New Jersey Turnpike on a holiday weekend and my video camera kit has been turned in and prepared for shipment back to the States. It’s a bittersweet feeling.

The months have now turned into weeks. In less than a month, I will be back in the United States. Before that however, during the last week members of our unit spread out all across Eastern Afghanistan at smaller bases had to come together for a week of fun-filled activities: physical fitness test, firing range, urinalysis (fun!) and a mandatory “family” BBQ. Oh, happy days. The good news is I passed both my PT test and urinalysis and the range was canceled. To conclude our deployment, we had a special week designed for all of us to share a last bit of camaraderie and reunite with those whom we haven’t seen for most of the year. Translation: We were trapped in a small office with three days and forced to get along with one another. I honestly could imagine how the miners first felt when they were trapped 2,300 feet below.

Ultimately, things didn’t turn out so bad. We all survived and actually engaged in some good conversations and Scrabble tournaments. The week was actually a reminder of how far we have all come in this deployment as people and journalists…and now it’s time to get the heck out of here!

Our replacement unit is due to arrive here in Afghanistan this week. I’m excited about it, but I do have something else clouding my mind. I had this great idea a few months ago to take the Graduate Record Exam out here before I leave. I don’t plan on going to grad school right away after I return home, but I thought it would be a good idea to have the score on hand for whenever I did decide to go. Boy has this turned into a mental ordeal! I haven’t studied the way I wanted to and the test is this week and I have already claimed defeat. Who comes up these tests anyway? The words “quintessence” and “mordacious” are not normally used in anyone’s daily conversation, so why put it on an exam? This is why I am not going to grad school when I return home. My brain needs a break from textbooks, 40-page papers and annoying freshmen. I just want to be a disgruntled, middle-class worker like the rest of America. At least for now.

The hunt hasn’t begun for jobs as of yet. That’s the reality of life that I haven’t embarked on as yet. I’m waiting until after the holidays to go down that icy slope of rejection from prospective employers. I’m not being pessimistic, just realistic. The journalism industry is hard to break into and I am preparing myself for the worse. I do believe there is an assignment out there for me somewhere, just hope it’s somewhere in the U.S. I can get good T-Mobile service and a hip-hop radio station along the local frequency. Just get me out of Afghanistan first.

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